'The Tempe Sound' exhibit captures the once-vibrant Tempe music scene

The Tempe History Museum presents "The Tempe Sound" exhibition. This time machine of an exhibit takes its viewers through Tempe's history from the 1960s to the 2000s. (Photo by Ryan Santistevan/ The State Press). The Tempe History Museum presents "The Tempe Sound" exhibition. This time machine of an exhibit takes its viewers through Tempe's history from the 1960s to the 2000s. (Photo by Ryan Santistevan/ The State Press).

The Tempe History Museum is reviving the music scene of Tempe with the exhibit "The Tempe Sound." From the 1890s to today, the exhibit takes you through a short time machine featuring the once-vibrant music scene of Tempe. From jazz to rock and roll, Tempe has lived it all.

Long Wong's was one of the several venues on Mill Avenue to bring in new and exciting artists. Sadly, it is also one of the many that no longer exist in Arizona. It went from an average club to a place coveted by musicians that yearned to play on the stage.

Musician Curtis Grippe is featured in the exhibit and attributes the bar to his success.

"A few of us were able to get beyond the local band thing and make a record in Hollywood and tour the country and it all started in Long Wong's," he said.

In the '60s, garage rock was a trend in Tempe, especially during 1965 when the band, Mile Ends, emerged. The band would end its sets by covering songs that were hits during the time. These same garage rock bands played cover songs for ASU fraternities. However, music scenes evolve, and in 1967, covering songs became boring in comparison to the innovative original music that bands would then write and produce at this time. Mile Ends would eventually break up, but the group's history as a Tempe band has resonated with its fans.

It was also in this time period that many venues opened around Tempe. Two that we can all relate to are ASU Gammage, built in 1964, and the Wells Fargo Arena, formerly known as the ASU Activity Center in 1974. JD's nightclub was another venue that brought entertainment to Tempe. It did not focus on a sole genre, but mainly focused on country and rock and roll. Since it opened before the aforementioned, ASU students would flock to the area to have a good time.

Hans Olson is the Arizona Blues Legend. He's been playing blues music for 45 years in Arizona. After he had toured Europe many times and released 15 albums, Olson opened the Sun Club in Tempe in 1986.

Although once-lively music venues have been shut down since the beginning of the 2000s, the birth of musicians and bands continued to form in Tempe. Two prominent examples are The Maine and Jimmy Eat World, who both continue to return to Tempe for shows and recordings.

At the end of the exhibit, a book waits for the audience to share their own thoughts and memories of Tempe. Such comments proudly patted the exhibit on its back for bringing nostalgia to their hearts of the once-booming Mill Avenue in its glorious music days. It's unfortunate that downtown Tempe has lost most of the hype it once had, but the Tempe History Museum does a great job in capturing its essence. There's even a station to sit down and listen to the music produced by bands who once livened up Tempe.

The exhibit will be open until October, so there's still lots of time to check it out.

 

Reach the reporter at ryan.santistevan@asu.edu or follow @ryanerica18 on Twitter.

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